Root canals are small internal vertical chambers (canals) containing nerves and blood vessels, running the length of the tooth. These tissues can become irritated causing extreme sensitivity and pain or they can become infected and die due to deep decay or other trauma. Eventually this infection will spread out of the end of the root and into the bone, infecting the bone causing an abscess. Prior to development of root canal procedures the only treatment was to extract the tooth.
Root canal therapy usually requires one to two visits. During the first visit a small opening is made thru the top of the tooth into the inner chamber. The diseased tissue is removed and the canal or canals are cleaned, shaped and chemically disinfected. The canals are then filled and sealed with an elastic material (gutta percha) to prevent further infection. The opening in the top of the tooth is then closed with a temporary filling until a replacement filling or crown can be placed.
Most patients having root canal therapy experience little or no discomfort and enjoy a restored tooth that can last as long as a healthy original.